'Do you remember?' is what I often ask myself during Memorial Day weekend. It seems an odd question to ask oneself, but I'm not sure if I do remember.
My father died when I was five years old. Five is an age when a child is beginning to think and to remember. Yet five is a distant memory, and seemingly has been for my entire adult life. For some reason, I remember very little from when I was a mere child of five.
And yet I want to remember. I want to relive the moments I had with my father, believing them to have been as special as the moments I witnessed with my own children at five with their father. I want to believe those moments existed for my father and me, too. And, yet, my memory doesn't always serve me.
Why Memorial Day? Because it is generally on this weekend that my mother visits my father's grave to plant flowers, and to remember. I'm sure she has memories of her short time married to the love of her life. I know her annual visits stir those memories. They also stir emotion. I wish for her that her memories will stir the emotions of joy my father brought into her life when he was here, and that the joy will be powerful enough to overcome the sadness that is surely also stirred by the stark reminder that he is no longer here.
Perhaps I am fortunate to not remember. Perhaps my inability to recall specific moments leaves my pot of sadness undisturbed. Or perhaps joy bubbles to the top of my simmering pot of emotions, given my trust that my relationship with my father was as wonderful as that of my daughters with their father. I'm going to go with that. I know my father is in heaven watching and caring for me as fathers do.
As we remember those we honor on Memorial Day, let us feel the joy they brought to those who knew them, and let it overcome the sadness felt by their absence. And, do remember that their gift of love and sacrifice allows us to be free to live in peace and to find our joy.
On Memorial Day, remember.
author of "JOY"